Condemning Attacks On Community Radios

RADIO GBEHZOHN, ONE of the oldest communities Radio Station in Grand Bassa County came under heavy attack Friday morning allegedly upon the orders of Rep. Gabriel B. Smith who reportedly led some of his bodyguards leading to the Radio Station sustaining huge damaged.
ACCORDING TO RUBEN Bannie one of the campaign leader who went with Representative Smith, they have gone to the station to buy air time on the same Radio Station that Rep. Smith for the past two and the half years has not appeared owing to the last incident with him and the Station Manager Mr. Hector Mulbah.
IN 2012 MR. Hector Mulbah was order flogged by Rep. Smith on grounds that he, Smith was denied air time by Mr. Mulbah during the arrival of the body of the later Sen. John F. Whitfield in the county, a situation which led to the placement of a media block-out on Rep. Smith. Mr. Bannie said when they got at the Radio Station, they were told to meet the Sale Manager identified as Archie George, which they did.
MR. BANNIE SAID Representative Smith told the sale manager that he wanted 45 minutes air time to be paid for but the sale manager Representative Smith that they had only 30 minutes air-time which will cost US$ 135.  He said Representative Smith paid US$1000 to the sale manager and the sale manager took the money but went to consult the Station Manager only to return and tell them that he was waiting for a call before they can get on the Radio.
LATER ACCORDING TO Mr. Bannie the sale manager told them that they will not use the radio station until the board meets, but Representative Smith said, he is a board member and wondered why he is being stopped.  Mr. Bannie further said just in that time they saw one of the worker switching off the transmitter.
IT IS SAID that it was during this exchange that it is alleged that bodyguard of the lawmaker, who is also contesting the senatorial seat of the country went on the rampage, destroying some of the equipment of the station, thus disrupting  normal activities of the station. Meanwhile the representative has denied ordering his bodyguards to destroy the station’s equipment..
IT CAN BE recalled that similar incident occurred in Ganta, Nimba County when men said to be supporters of Senator Prince Y. Johnson damaged equipment belonging to the station on ground that those on air at the time were propagating lies against Senator Johnson. The senator also denied any involvement, but weeks later apologized for the incident.
BESIDES THESE TWO incidents there have also been reports how some community radios have come under attacks by some individuals. In some of the incidents, staffers have been attacked and in others equipment destroyed. These, for us, are counter-productive as they have the propensity to undermine the operation of community radios in the leeward counties.
WE NOTE WITH satisfaction the role being played by community radios in the dissemination of information to the public. These community radios have been so useful to an extent that they relay programs from mainstream media for the benefit of rural dwellers.
ALTHOUGH THE TWO lawmakers who have been linked to the two recent incidents in Nimba and Grand Bassa County have denied involvement on the attacks against these community radios, we vehemently denounce these attacks on community radios for selfish reasons, rather than that of the community and country.
ONCE AGAIN, WE condemn and denounce these attacks on the community radios. We call on the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) to take note of this latest incident which has occurred during this time of the special senatorial election when people should have access to the media.